I love Christmas, but I do not love the craziness that often comes along with it. I don't want to waste my entire holiday season sitting in traffic on the way to the mall or spending a ton of money to clutter up the homes of my family and friends. I want to choose my presents wisely, support local businesses where possible and just enjoy spending time and energy with the people I love rather than ON them. Here are some ways I am trying to have a simpler holiday season. If you are doing the same, please share your tips.
Event Gifts: Give your family the gift of experiences rather than items. For kids, do a trip to a museum, farm (if you can stand the cold!), or holiday show. For adults, maybe visit a winery or brewery, go see a comedy show or a play, or take a weekend trip. I highly recommend this article from Slow Your Home on "The Ultimate Clutter-Free Gift Guide."
Homemade Gifts: If you are the crafty type, make presents yourself. Even if you are not, you can always support a small business by purchasing something homemade. Check out Becky's series on homemade gifts for some great ideas. Shutterfly is also great for turning photos into presents: calendars, mugs etc.
Event Advent Calendars: I've seen this idea in a couple of places but I've never tried it myself. Basically, instead of taking an ornament or chocolate out of an Advent calendar, instead you take out something fun to do. You have to be careful with this because if you put this together with a bunch of event gifts you are participating in, you can end up with the opposite of a simple holiday season. But, you get to make up what you want to do, so you can keep it super low key. Some ideas I like include taking a drive to see Christmas lights, listening and dancing to Christmas music, watching a Christmas movie, and making cookies. Remember, this is YOUR Advent Calendar so you don't have to have an "event" every night.
Say No/Do Less: This is a great article about how moms of little kids should do less, but I think everyone should do less. I'm sure you don't need me to tell you, but you don't have to say yes to every holiday party, volunteer to bring extravagant dishes to a dinner party or even send out Christmas cards this year. Choose only what you most love and/or need to do, and say no to the rest. This is a work in progress for me.
How do you simplify your holiday season?